Yes, there is something rather contradictory about such a title, but I have come to find this seeming paradox quite true. In our culture at large, we come to value the unchanging, the steady, the constant. I have heard someone say of another, “Oh, Mr. So-in-So…he is as steady as they come; you count on him like you can the sunrise.” That’s a pretty high complement…one I’ve often wished to overhear being said about me…but probably never will. That’s because I’m not in the ‘steady’ or ‘constant’ crowd. I’m more likely to hear something like, “Oh, Jon…there he goes again…so fickle...chasing another dream….”
I am a human…alive...and that means change. Yet, in the midst of change, there ARE some constants. For example, one unchanging aspect of my life is the love I have for my wife. But, how I EXPRESS that love is ever changing. At times, this love is expressed in a very physical way, through a closeness that I experience with no one else in this world. At other times, this love is expressed through a glance, a quick look filled with meaning and depth that brings a subtle smile. We have “off” days, bad days. On those days, my love for her may be expressed by silence…by saying nothing…by taking three hours at the local library or coffee shop to give her (or me) needed space. Yet, underneath the surface of multifaceted expression, the love remains…unchanging.
Another unchanging aspect of my life is my faith in God. As with my love for my wife, my faith in God is expressed in many different ways. On Sunday mornings, I gather with ‘Jesus people’ in a large group where I sing loudly and passionately…where I sway a bit to the music…where I join in group study and reflection on the Christian Scriptures. During the week, I don’t do those things too much. (I think my office mates are glad I don’t. I believe if I did that, I’d probably be fired.) So, my faith—though unchanging—will be lived out and expressed in different ways depending on the situation, the context. Some days I identify with the 1st Century Christians as I read the letters of Paul to those early groups of ‘Jesus people.’ Some days, I identify with the Desert Fathers of the 3rd Century…or with the Celtic Christians of the 6th Century…with the Reformers of the 16th Century…then with the new ‘radicals’ of the 21st Century. At times my faith has me focused on our Creator God…at times on God the Son…and at other times on the Spirit of God. I’m all over the place—in my expression, identifications, and foci. But, the underlying faith is unchanging.
One of the tenets of the Christian faith is the unchanging God, yet God is always changing. In Scripture, we find God changing His mind, changing His plans—just read the powerful, emotion-packed interchanges between God and Moses…or read through the Psalms. Then, 2000 years ago, God changed—God experienced something that He had never before experienced. The Creator became creation; God became human. (Think of it this way: The man who makes the oak rocking chairs somehow becomes one of those rocking chairs—that is almost mind-blowing!) Yet, our God is unchanging as well—forever Creator and Sustainer of all things; forever Author of love and of our salvation; forever Emmanuel—God with us. But, how God interacts with us may change and does change. How God reveals Himself to us may vary from day to day, and certainly from culture to culture—He meets us through a song, in a reading, in a sunset, in a stranger, in silence. So, WHO God is never changes. God is “the same yesterday, today and forever.”
And me? I’ll still chase dreams. I’ll have my ups and downs. But, below the multiple layers of expression and the swirl of human emotions, yes—I find a solid, unchanging core…and that unchanging aspect—I must believe—is directly related to my faith in and the presence of the Unchanging One. I’m ever changing…yet unchanging.